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Tiger with cubs and magpies
15th century

Ming dynasty

Ink and color on silk
H: 164.8 W: 95.3 cm

Gift of Charles Lang Freer F1911.252

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A tiger standing protectively over her cubs seems to ignore two magpies scolding from the branches of a pine tree. When combined as the subject of paintings, tigers are messengers of the mountain spirit and magpies are the envoys of the shrine deities that protect house hold and community. Paintings with this motif were displayed in doorways of Korean homes at the New Year to ward off evil. Court artists painted the theme on silk, as in this example, while itinerant painters serving village households used mulberry paper.

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